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Lynette - born with HIV, grew into a warrior

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Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.

I was born with HIV. I was diagnosed at birth in 1990. My chances of survival were incredibly slim. I lived in hospitals the first several years of my life. I’ve been on most HIV treatment regimens.

I was constantly educated about HIV, but trying to understand it was so hard. Before I was eight, I’d lost both parents to AIDS. I resented the doctors, HIV and AIDS, my parents, even God.

I didn’t understand my body; I was really skinny but with a bloated stomach, and thin cheeks, almost skeletal-like. I had other side effects from having this type of immune system and from taking treatment. I always felt different.

I had hepatitis C for a while, but I’ve been undetectable since high school. I graduated in 2009 and lived a ‘normal’ life. I went to college but always kept my status secret for fear of rejection. I’ve only become comfortable and willing to talk about my status in the last few years. I stumbled across Avert and thought: ‘this could be a chance to share my story with hope’.

I want to raise awareness and educate others about HIV. It doesn’t have to be as crippling as it once was. I exercise, I work and I take part in anything I find interesting - I live a normal life.

I’m resilient. I don’t have to go through what my parents went through. I recall vivid images of their last days and think if only antiretroviral treatment was as advanced then as it is now, they may have lived. Their losses are a whole different story for another day, but I truly find myself a warrior!

Lynette hasn’t known anything other than living with HIV. Although she struggled as a child and felt very different, she developed new perspectives. She’s now keen to use her energy to educate others about treatment and that it’s possible to live a long and healthy life with HIV.

*These personal stories have been submitted to us anonymously by individuals who use our site. Some of the stories have been edited for clarity purposes. Some names have been changed to protect identities.        

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Last updated: 26 September 2019